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A Problem with Serious Consequences…

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Why the Novus Ordo Rite of Episcopal Consecration is INVALID

A Catholic Priest Explains how the Paul VI Rite of
Episcopal Consecration is Invalid due to Defect of Form

The bishops ordained in the Vatican II Church’s Roman Rite since 1968 are invalid. This is the unsettling but certain conclusion one comes to when examining the sacramental form prescribed by “Pope” Paul VI in his 1968 revision to the rite of episcopal consecration. This means that the clergy who undergo the ceremony for the ordination of a bishop in the Novus Ordo Church do not actually become bishops. That’s right: The institution claiming to be the Catholic Church has not been ordaining any true bishops in 45 years! The horrific repercussions of this problem are immediately evident, for if there are no true bishops, neither are there true priests, deacons, Communion Hosts, Masses, absolutions from sin, holy oils, holy water, and so forth.

This impacts also the “traditionalist” orders and organizations within the Vatican II Church, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), and similar groups, because, although their clergy are all being ordained in the traditional Roman rite, nevertheless all of the “bishops” who confer the orders for them are themselves not valid because all of them have been ordained in the Novus Ordo rite after 1968. Not being valid bishops, they cannot, of course, confer valid orders on anyone, regardless of what liturgical books they use.

Officially promulgated by Giovanni Battista Montini — “Pope” Paul VI — on June 18, 1968, the “Apostolic Constitution” Pontificalis Romani Recognitio, which instituted the new ordination rite not only for the episcopacy but also for priests and deacons, did not become mandatory until April 6 of 1969, according to a decree of the “Sacred” Congregation of Rites signed by “Cardinal” Benno Gut, dated August 15, 1968. We know, therefore, that at least as of this date (the new rite was optional before then), any “bishops” consecrated in the Vatican II Church’s Roman Rite are definitely not bishops.

The problem of the invalidity of Novus Ordo bishops has thus been around for a long time, as we can see, although it has never received more attention than in recent years when in 2005 Fr. Joseph Ratzinger became the first Novus Ordo claimant to the papacy (Benedict XVI) who was definitely not a valid bishop himself (he had been consecrated in 1977 in the new rite by Bp. Josef Stangl).

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In December of 2005, the semi-traditionalist Society of St. Pius X — hitherto somewhat ambivalent about Novus Ordo episcopal consecrations — published in The Angelus the first installment of a two-part article arguing that Novus Ordo bishops’ ordinations were certainly valid (part 2 followed a month later). This essay triggered Fr. Anthony Cekada, a sedevacantist ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1977, to write an in-depth response tackling the question of the 1968 rite of episcopal consecration in light of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic sacramental theology, especially the definitions of Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis (1947).

Cekada’s original essay, entitled “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void” and published in the first half of 2006, was followed by objections from various defenders of the New Rite, to which he again replied in turn. The following list of links provides all the essays written by Fr. Cekada to argue and defend his position that the Paul VI rite of episcopal consecration, without question, is invalid. To date, his challenge remains unrefuted.

  • Absolutely Null and Utterly Void: The 1968 Rite of Episcopal Consecration [PDF; March 2006]
    Examines the criteria for validity, Eastern Rite formulas, ancient Christian texts, early doubts about validity, “governing Spirit” vs. “fullness of the priesthood,” substantial change, arguments from context, papal approval. Answer to SSPX/Angelus and Sel de la Terre articles by Fr. Pierre-Marie favoring validity. Extensive bibliography.
  • Why the New Bishops are Not True Bishops [PDF; November 2006]
    A two-page summary of the above-linked study “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void”
  • Still Null and Still Void: Replies to Objections [PDF; January 2007] by Fr. Anthony Cekada
    Replies to objections from Br. Ansgar Santogrossi, OSB, Fr. Pierre-Marie de Kergorlay, OP, and Fr. Alvaro Calderon, SSPX, against the above-linked study “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void”
  • New Bishops, Empty Tabernacle [PDF; May 2007]
    Response to an editorial by Abbé Grégoire Celier which employs some novel and bizarre principles to defend the validity of the 1968 Rite of Episcopal Consecration

  • Saved by Context? The ’68 Rite of Episcopal Consecration [March 2012]
    Rejoinder to the popular objection that the larger context provided by the 1968 rite of bishops’ ordination gives clear expression to the sacramental form and hence suffices for validity

These are the documents you will want to read carefully if you wish to explore this important theological question for yourself. Though the subject matter is somewhat technical, it is not too difficult to follow.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stephen Heiner of TrueRestoration.org has conducted an interview with Fr. Cekada on this very topic, the video of which you can watch above. We express our gratitude to Mr. Heiner and the True Restoration team for releasing this insightful and important video, which was originally recorded in 2011.

At whatever stage in your efforts to make sense of the Vatican II mess in the church you might currently find yourself, please do not neglect this all-important topic, no matter how disturbing it may be to you. Nothing is gained by turning a blind eye to a real and far-reaching problem. The links below will help you further, as they address related issues and concerns.

And by the way: SSPX Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais agrees that the Novus Ordo rite of episcopal consecration must be regarded as invalid in practice — see here.

Relevant Church Documents: